July 27, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Deal in works to improve vet care

House, Senate panel chairs say VA would recruit more doctors

Washington— The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to improve veterans’ health care.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., scheduled a news conference today to talk about a compromise plan to fix a veterans’ health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

A spokesman for Sanders said Sunday the men have reached a tentative agreement.

The deal requires a vote by a conference committee of House and Senate negotiators, and votes in the full House and Senate.

Miller and Sanders said in a joint statement that they “made significant progress” over the weekend toward agreement on legislation to reform the Veterans Affairs Department.

The plan is intended to “make VA more accountable and to help the department recruit more doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.” Miller and Sanders said.

Few details of the agreement were released, but the bill is expected to authorize billions in emergency spending to lease new 27 clinics, hire more doctors and nurses and make it easier for veterans who can’t get prompt appointments with VA doctors to get outside care.

Sanders proposed a bill last week that would cost about $25 billion over three years. Miller countered with a plan to approve $10 billion in emergency spending, with a promise of more spending in future years under the normal congressional budget process.

Both bills cost significantly less than bills approved last month by the House and Senate.